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New Phytol. 2010 Jan;185(2):514-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2009.03078.x. Epub 2009 Nov 6.

Re-assessment of plant carbon dynamics at the Duke free-air CO(2) enrichment site: interactions of atmospheric [CO(2)] with nitrogen and water availability over stand development.

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Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.


*The potential for elevated [CO(2)]-induced changes to plant carbon (C) storage, through modifications in plant production and allocation of C among plant pools, is an important source of uncertainty when predicting future forest function. Utilizing 10 yr of data from the Duke free-air CO(2) enrichment site, we evaluated the dynamics and distribution of plant C. *Discrepancy between heights measured for this study and previously calculated heights required revision of earlier allometrically based biomass determinations, resulting in higher (up to 50%) estimates of standing biomass and net primary productivity than previous assessments. *Generally, elevated [CO(2)] caused sustained increases in plant biomass production and in standing C, but did not affect the partitioning of C among plant biomass pools. Spatial variation in net primary productivity and its [CO(2)]-induced enhancement was controlled primarily by N availability, with the difference between precipitation and potential evapotranspiration explaining most interannual variability. Consequently, [CO(2)]-induced net primary productivity enhancement ranged from 22 to 30% in different plots and years. *Through quantifying the effects of nutrient and water availability on the forest productivity response to elevated [CO(2)], we show that net primary productivity enhancement by elevated [CO(2)] is not uniform, but rather highly dependent on the availability of other growth resources.

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